Private View: Chase Hall

The emerging painter questions biraciality and the canon of American art in a new solo exhibition

Chase Hall | Painting black and bi-racial America - YouTube

Aleczander is the first solo exhibition in New York by American painter, sculptor, and photographer Chase Hall. Born in Minnesota, Hall’s latest large-scale work is an examination of race and its place in the canon of Western portraiture. With canvases of black and brown bodies standing over three meters tall, his imposing art challenges the viewer to consider the agency, backstory, and interior life of his figures.

Acrylic, coffee, and unprimed cotton are the raw materials of his trade. The deep, brown characters that Hall breathes life into are punctuated by the inert and ever-present whiteness of the canvas, which he allows to act as paint; a narrative chiaroscuro of sorts underlining the metaphysical binary of black and white.

Aleczander invites the viewer into an expressionistic world of seafarers, laborers, sportsmen, and gastronomy, but it is Hall’s depictions of people interacting with animals that appear the most coded. They Say An Elephant Never Forgets (2021) can be read as an illustration of ancestral trauma and The Great White Hanging (2020) as a provocative reversal of power with the image of a Black fisherman and his catch of the day—a great white shark.

«Being invited into Chase’s practice—watching him mix color, create with pigment, pour coffee on canvas—was completely transfixing,» say Nora Deligter and Faye Tsakas, the directors of this episode of Private View. «His work speaks as urgently to his own lived experience as it does to great American narratives, past and present.»

Growing up in Chicago, Las Vegas, Colorado, Dubai, and Los Angeles before the age of 20, Hall gained a unique insight into the cognitive dissonance that lies at the heart of American society; and as someone of bi-racial heritage, witnessed firsthand how colorism shapes one’s becoming.

Hall’s work has graced the pages of The New York Times, The Atlantic, Vogue and others as the public’s appetite for “outsider art”—a label attributed to those who are self-taught, with little to no formal art education—continues to grow. Running From Yesterday’s Acquittal (2019) went viral in the aftermath of Ahmaud Arbery’s lynching in Georgia and The Black Birderers Association (2020) was also reshared after a video of a white woman making false accusations against a Black birdwatcher sparked national outrage. The prescience of Hall’s paintings, created months before each event, makes for a disturbing case of life imitating art.

The painter’s art, past and present,pays homage to the black and brown people who have historically been seen as subjects of anthropological study in art discourse. Weather eating, resting, dancing, or congregating, each painting captures the multiplicity of existence for people of color—restless and resilient, powerful and provocative; and just like coffee, sharpens the mind in preperation for a new day in American contemporary art.

Aleczander, an exhibition of works by Chase Hall, is on view at C L E A R I N G New York gallery through April 29 – June 20, 2021

June 16, 2021


Shelley Jones

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